Sekondi, Feb. 23 -GNA - Galamsey operators operating in the Western Region have been advised to apply for small-scale mining licenses before March 2005 or the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) would flush them out.
Mr. Joseph B. Aidoo, Western Regional Minister and chairman of REGSEC announced this at a press conference at Sekondi on Wednesday after the close of a two-day stakeholders meeting on Galamsey Operations in the Wassa West and other Districts in the region.
He said REGSEC was soliciting the approval from the National Security Council (NASEC) before it embarks on the operation.
Mr. Aidoo said currently, galamsey operations was taking place in Bogoso, Prestea, Tarkwa, Teleku Bokazo and the use of explosives by these galamsey operators in their activities, on Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL's) concession was a source of worry to REGSEC and investigations are underway to ascertain the sources of supply.
"The explosives used by the galamsey operators occasionally reach the underground mines of the BGL and was hampering their operations and REGSEC was working hard to retrieve them," he added. Mr. Aidoo said a survey conducted in Prestea, Bogoso and Tarkwa had revealed that there were about 10,000 galamsey operators in Prestea alone and their operations was having negative effects on the environment, health of local communities while the safety of the galamsey operators cannot be guaranteed.
He said, already the bridge spanning the Ankobra was under severe threat from the activities of galamsey operators and efforts must be made to stop them before their activities destroy a lot of infrastructure.
He said notices have been sent to all galamsey operators through their respective executives to vacant their present occupation and embrace alternative livelihood programmes being instituted for them. Mr. Aidoo said galamsey operators who secure mining licenses would be assisted to acquire lands, equipments and financial assistance to facilitate their work.
"Legalised small-scale mining should be promoted, coordinated, regulated and supported by the government through a sustained public education on the mining laws and the effects of their activities on the economy, environment, the people and the country as a whole," he stressed.
Mr. Aidoo said though four galamsey operators had died through a cave-in at Prestea, this had not deterred others from engaging in the activity.